Cross River Govt suspends doctor, shuts down hospital over death of aide

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The Cross River State Government on Thursday disclosed that it has suspended Dr Offiong Okoho, whose alleged unprofessional practices led to the death of Prince Otu-Otu Duke, a patient who was under his care.

Duke, who was the Special Adviser to Gov. Ben Ayade on Waste Management, died on April 3, 2020, after undergoing surgery for hernia at the Covenant Clinic and Maternity run and owned by Dr Okoho.

Cross River Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu, told newsmen on Thursday in Calabar that Dr Okoho has been suspended while his private clinic, Covenant Clinic and Maternity was also closed down.

Dr Edu said that the state Ministry of Health was aware of the complaints about Dr Okoho from some patients he had handled in the past.

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Vanguard learned that the family of the late Prince Duke, who brought up the matter, have insisted in their petition that Dr Okoho’s mismanagement of their brother’s health condition led to his untimely death

Mr Orok Duke brother to the deceased had earlier sent a petition to the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Uche Anozia about the illicit practice and the “illegal clinic run by Okoho.

In his petition, Duke stated that “Dr Offiong had operated upon my brother and mismanaged his medical condition in his illegal clinic.

“By the time that my brother, who had fallen into a coma was evacuated and taken to Asi Ukpo Medical Centre for proper medical treatment, he died on 3rd April, 2020.”

The Commissioner for Health said that investigation into the various allegations against the physician by members of the public was ongoing.

She also explained that the suspension was to give way for transparency in the process, adding that a committee has been set up to reach out to persons or relatives of people who have been victims to testify.

“When you see that the hospital is being shut down is a clear indication that government is doing something. The facility was shut down by the state Ministry of Health in collaboration with Nigerian Medical Association, NMA .

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“The first step was to shut down the facility, and investigation is ongoing. And of course, we also have medical sanctions that would definitely come to play when we get the report from the investigation committee.

“At the same time, Dr Okoho has also been suspended from working at the General Hospital until investigations are over.

“Remember, we can’t just act on what we hear, we must investigate so that we don’t just punish somebody wrongly. We have reached out to some persons who he has treated as well.

“Those testimonies would form the background of what we would do”, the Commissioner said.

When contacted, Dr Okoho told Vanguard that as a medical professional, he took an oath to save lives and not otherwise.

He said the deceased, who had a history of diabetes, was brought in for surgery at his clinic on March 25, 2020 and that the procedure was successfully carried out.

He explained that seven days after, the deceased patient developed partial stroke, which he then referred him to a specialist for appropriate treatment, but the patient, however, refused to go for the referral.

Ikoho said: “It was after the situation deteriorated that he was placed on oxygen and finally moved to Asi Ukpo Medical Centre, where he died”, he said.

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On his suspension from the services of the Cross River Government, Dr Okoho said there was nothing he could do other than awaits the outcome of investigation by the Ministry of Health.

Responding to the possible cause of death, Dr Okoho said: “The patient could have died as a result of Aspiration Pneumonitis because the nurse at Asi Ukpo said he vomited before he died.

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